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Make it an eBilling evolution, not a revolt

An eBilling revolution

My Google Alert keyword search turned up an interesting forum discussion from Malaysia last week. Someone was upset that a mobile operator there had introduced a US$0.88 charge for sending out a paper bill because eBilling is now available to their customers. Nothing unusual, but I noticed that as I read down the postings (or in most cases, rantings), the rhetoric became more heated and passionate. What started off as a fairly reasonable, minor complaint ended up with the company being lambasted for being unethical and greedy; for profiteering and introducing illegal charges! Based on this forum, the poor company appears to be second only to Al Qaeda in the Axis of Evil! And I’m sure their Public Relations department has since been in a spin, trying to contain the fall-out!

But the thing is that none of this was necessary. In the interests of fairness and accuracy, I did add my tuppence worth to this discussion; rather more reasonable and along the lines of:

The issue here is really relating to how the company has gone about this change to their billing practices. It may or may not be illegal for them to introduce a charge without telling the customer – I’ll leave that for better informed people than me to decide – but they certainly need to manage the customer relationship better to take the sting out of any additional charges being levied.

What’s required is a customer adoption strategy designed to get customers to sign up for (cheaper, greener) eBilling without upsetting them or indeed inciting them to raise class-action law suits, as has happened in the USA recently.

3 things I’d consider critical here:

1. Inform the customer in advance of any change to T&Cs that will result in additional charges
2. Always allow the customer to make a choice, either to opt-in, or to opt-out of eBilling
3. Make your eBill so good that most customers will actually want to receive their bill that way! Include interactivity to allow customers to analyse their usage, add relevant, targeted marketing , include a payment form for ease of payment and add graphs etc. All the things you can’t do with paper bills.

Approached properly, the change to eBilling should work well for telcos (and banks and utilities), customers and the environment – a win-win-win solution.

Stories like this should be a thing of the past, but until companies realise that there’s more to eBilling than just a webpage or an email; until they add value to their eBill offering; until they realise that customer psychology needs to be considered when pushing for paper turn-off, we can expect more revolts.

Is your eBilling strategy focused on the “customer experience”?

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